There are a few pieces of essential equipment to find when preparing for your fondue party. It’s important to know how many people you’re inviting so you can plan accordingly for your supplies run – make sure to send invitations out ahead of time, and when those RSVP’s come due, let your guests know that all “no”-s are final!
There are a couple different options to choose from when looking for a fondue pot, and the one you choose will depend on the kind of fondue you’re planning on making.
- Ceramic – This is going to be your standard fondue pot. Ceramic pots evenly distribute heat and help to provide a consistent temperature for your fondue without becoming too hot. This makes these pots ideal for cheese or chocolate fondue!
- Metal – These pots are best for broth or oil fondues, where you’ll need high heat to thoroughly cook various meats and veggies. Metal pots can work well for cheese fondue, though you’ll definitely want to look for a pot with adjustable temperatures.
While electronic versions exist, they can be inconvenient for party settings where you want to have the fondue pot at the center of the table. If you’re purchasing a pot with this in mind, go for one that requires a separate heat source so that you’re not tied to an electrical outlet.
The fondue fork is not for eating with, it’s for cooking! The length of the fork and the shape of the tongs make it perfect for spearing food and swirling it in fondue deliciousness, but they become too hot actually eat with. Plan to have at least one for each party guest but having a few extra on hand is always a plus, and try to find forks that are color-coded so there are no mix-ups. Just remember, there’s no double-dipping allowed, so if a fondue fork accidentally goes in a mouth instead of the pot, it’s out of commission.
If you want your fondue to stay ooey-gooey and not turn into a cold, cheesy blob, you’ll need something to keep your pot warm. A fondue set may come with a special burner designed to go underneath that particular fondue pot; if not, or if you’re purchasing your supplies separately, a tea light or a Sterno-style burner will work as well. As with pot choice, you’ll want to choose heat for the kind of fondue you’re making – high heat for oils and broths, medium for cheese, and low for chocolate or caramel. When lighting a fondue burner, make sure you are using a fuel that works with its design, and make sure you are practicing fire safety! Always place the burner on a metal or ceramic plate to prevent accidentally scorching your table.
Plates, Forks, & Napkins
So, you’ve got you fondue pot for holding cheesy goodness, your fondue forks for maximum dunkage, and a heat source to keep the whole thing cooking – now how exactly do you eat it? You’ll want a small plate and dinner fork for each guest, this way they can catch any cheesy drippings and can eat without having to wash their fondue fork every time. Fondue can also get pretty messy, so have plenty of napkins on hand to catch any runaway cheese!
Prepping for Your Party
The invites are sent, you’ve got the hardware, but you’ve still got to set up a party space and there’s the small matter of actual food to be seen to. And what about the drinks?! As with your cooking supplies, you’ll want to tailor your setup and your food to the people you’ll be serving; by doing this, you’ll help your party go off without a hitch!
Set Up A Fondue-Friendly Space
If your party is going to be small – think 4 to 6 people – you can probably get away with serving on the fly; however, anything larger than that is going to take a little engineering!
Fondue can quickly become a mess if you have people reaching over one another for food or cheese, so to save yourself and your guests from cleaning up cheese all night, try to arrange the table in a way where everyone can reach the pot and food. For large gatherings, this may mean having two sets of pots, one for each end of the table; if your party is going to be really big, it may even be worth going for a buffet setup instead.
Get Plenty to Dunk
Half of the fun of fondue is getting to eat as much cheese as you physically can; the other half is getting to eat the food that gets dunked in the cheese. You’ll want everything to be bite-sized, which may mean a certain amount of chopping and dicing will have to happen prior to party time. If you’re planning on doing an oil or broth fondue, this is where your prep ends, but if you’re going for cheese, you’ll want to pre-cook some things. Here’s a list of standard fondue fair!
- Bread – French bread is the classic accompaniment to fondue, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it. Try a hearty, dark bread or a rustic, whole grain bread for added nuttiness; you can even use pretzels! Slightly stale or toasted breads are the best at holding up against cheese and are less likely to fall apart in your pot.
- Meat & Seafood – Cured meats like salami and ham are great partners for cheesy fondue, but if you’re willing to steam or roast a little beforehand, the world is your oyster! That is, unless you’re doing a broth or oil fondue, then all your meats will be cooked by your guests – you’ll want thinly sliced meats or naturally bite-sized options, like shrimp!
- Vegetables – As with meats, you’ll want to pre-cook most veggies for a cheese fondue. Try steaming small potatoes, cauliflower and/or broccoli florets, zucchini, pearl onions, and green beans, or sauté a mix of fall mushrooms or artichoke hearts for more robust flavors. For raw options, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, sliced bell peppers, celery sticks, and even radishes make for a delightful dunk without the extra prep.
- Pickles – Surprisingly, pickles are absolutely delicious covered in cheese! Try gerkins or cornichons for a sour crunch or try cubing up a few classic dill pickles for a salty treat. Make sure to drain and rinse the pickles first, pickle brine can mix with fondue if there’s too much.
- Fruit – Fruit and cheese is almost as classic a pairing as cheese and wine. Pick fruits that are firm fleshed and bright in flavor to stand up to a rich fondue; try slices of pear or apple to keep it seasonal, or go for strawberries or pieces of melon for a creative twist.
And Plenty to Drink
Instead of serving hor d’oeuvres, try serving cocktails instead! This awakens the appetite without leaving your guests too full to enjoy the rich fondue later and keeps you from having to prepare snacks. If you’re going for a retro vibe, try classic cocktails like a martini, or skip the cocktails and go straight for the champagne!
White wine is added to traditional Swiss fondue recipes to prevent curdling, so it naturally makes a perfect accompaniment. You will want to pair the wine with the cheese you’re using for your fondue; if you’re going the classic route and using a Swiss cheese, go for a lighter, sweeter white or even a hard cider. If you’re using oil or broth, pair to the kinds of meats and veggies you’ll be eating, robust reds for hardier meats like pork or beef and less intense reds for poultry or rich seafood. You can even skip the wine altogether and go for beer, or a non-alcoholic option like virgin cranberry spritzers. Just keep in mind how rich everything will be and look for a beverage that will cut through and compliment it.
Finally, Just Have Fun!
Just like any party, the whole point of prepping ahead of time is to make the big day as stress-free as possible and give you as much party time as possible! And Oliver’s is here to make it even easier for you; whether it’s our impeccable cheese selection, our knowledgeable wine staff, or our high-quality produce and meats, Oliver’s is here to make your fondue night the best it can be without all the worry. So plan yourself a fondue party today, and stop by Oliver’s – your party will “brie” even “feta” than you could imagine!
Looking for a fondue recipe to get you started? Click here!